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Old 30th May 2021, 04:34 AM   #1
Cathey
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Default British Naval C1858 Cutlass with german blade

Hi Guys

I am having difficulty identifying this blade maker, probably german but I cant find this particular design in any of my books. Can anyone help identify it thanks.

References to this pattern are also hard to source as it came in at the same time as the cutlass bayonet. I have seen it refered to as a lead cutter but I am not convinced this is actually correct.

Cheers Cathey
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Old 30th May 2021, 03:36 PM   #2
Jim McDougall
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I am not certain of the 1858 cutlass type, but in "Swords of the British Army"(Robson, 1975, p. 176-77) this pattern is shown as a pattern 1870 (reg. issued 1 Sep., 1870) 'sword, lead cutting'.
Brian Robson himself declared this sword as one of the most bizarre anomalies among British regulation patterns , and notes that this type was intended for use in gymnasia, the fancy term for sword exercises in this case.
The lead cutting term is unexplained, unless it referred to actually chopping into lead block for wrist exercise? in a recalling of the old 'eisenhauer' (iron hewing) blades in German parlance.

The mark is of course what is unfortunately termed in heraldry a 'blackamoor'.
These images of 'moors' heads are in parlance with the turban wearing 'Turks heads' also often seen in heraldry and other artistic license.
The term 'Moor' historically referred to Muslims in a collective reference as a result of the rule of Andalusian Spain by Moors for 700 years.

The term 'blackamoor' (OED) seems to have first come about in 1581.

As far as I can see, this type of 'Moors head' was used by Johannes Buegel in Solingen 1648-1688, possibly later.
Similar variations used by Peter Munsten the elder 1552-1628.

As noted, these 'Moors heads' were present in European heraldry, and are seen in Italian, French and Polish crests, and in Scotland there is a Moors head on the McClellan crest that allegedly derives from events in 16th c. Scotland.

In hopes of avoiding further discussion on the 'Moors head' with regard to current difficulties, I will emphasize that these markings were prevalent since medieval times in heraldry and as such often refer to prominent figures in European history with this ethnic background.

Here, on a 19th century blade, clearly it is a representation of 'quality' apparently using the markings of these 16th-17th c. German makers as a symbol of that. The arrows underneath compare to various British administrative markings used on blades but unclear on meaning.
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Old 30th May 2021, 03:49 PM   #3
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I am not certain of the 1858 cutlass type, but in "Swords of the British Army"(Robson, 1975, p. 176-77) this pattern is shown as a pattern 1870 (reg. issued 1 Sep., 1870) 'sword, lead cutting'.
Brian Robson himself declared this sword as one of the most bizarre anomalies among British regulation patterns , and notes that this type was intended for use in gymnasia, the fancy term for sword exercises in this case.
The lead cutting term is unexplained, unless it referred to actually chopping into lead block for wrist exercise? in a recalling of the old 'eisenhauer' (iron hewing) blades in German parlance.

The mark is of course what is unfortunately termed in heraldry a 'blackamoor'.
These images of 'moors' heads are in parlance with the turban wearing 'Turks heads' also often seen in heraldry and other artistic license.
The term 'Moor' historically referred to Muslims in a collective reference as a result of the rule of Andalusian Spain by Moors for 700 years.

The term 'blackamoor' (OED) seems to have first come about in 1581.

As far as I can see, this type of 'Moors head' was used by Johannes Buegel in Solingen 1648-1688, possibly later.
Similar variations used by Peter Munsten the elder 1552-1628.

As noted, these 'Moors heads' were present in European heraldry, and are seen in Italian, French and Polish crests, and in Scotland there is a Moors head on the McClellan crest that allegedly derives from events in 16th c. Scotland.

In hopes of avoiding further discussion on the 'Moors head' with regard to current difficulties, I will emphasize that these markings were prevalent since medieval times in heraldry and as such often refer to prominent figures in European history with this ethnic background.

Here, on a 19th century blade, clearly it is a representation of 'quality' apparently using the markings of these 16th-17th c. German makers as a symbol of that. The arrows underneath compare to various British administrative markings used on blades but unclear on meaning.


In 1856, according to Robson, a practice sword was introduced which used the M1821 heavy cavalry sword hilt, with a blade of lenticular section, unfullered. This example is one of these with blade by Mole.
This repurposing of these M1821 heavy cavalry swords, along with many destroyed in a fire in the Tower in 1850s accounts for the relative rarity of surviving examples intact.
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Old 30th May 2021, 09:48 PM   #4
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Hi,

From 1859 the history is very confusing for British cutlasses. Swords for Sea Service make an attempt at explaining all the various modifications and design changes mixed in with the cutlass bayonet but even that account is confusing. It did not settle down again until the adoption of the of the 1889 model.

Some were made in Solingen and some in Britain and some put together in Britain using German blades. I can't identify that head. British cutlasses were well marked during this period with inspector's stamps. The lack of which may indicate a private lead cutter but I do not think this one is a lead cutter as they tended to have much wider blades at the ricasso.


The 1859 had a 27" long blade and was 1 1/4 inch wide at the shoulder. The length may not help much as many 29" cutlasses were cut down to 27" without bothering to re-temper the blades which caused lots of problems and failures.
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Old 31st May 2021, 01:54 AM   #5
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Default 1858 Cutlass?

Hi Guys

From what I can find thus far these cutlasses were contracted at the same time as the 1859 Sword Cutlass bayonet. There are records of the cutlass bayonet being issued but none on the cutlass’s also ordered at the same time. On page 91, Volume 1 Swords for sea service there is a reference to cutlasses produced at the same times as the cutlass bayonet but not adopted. This might explain why this cutlass has no issue marks and may have been repurposed for training use.

The first cutlass I posted has a 26 ¾” spear point blade, but I have other one identical other than that the blade is 27” spear point blade which is 1 ½” wide at the hilt. These blades are not blunted as you might expect in a training sword. I have attached the picture from Volume 2 of Swords for sea service as apart from the rack plate on the guard it is identical to the two that I have acquired recently. The reinforced plate on the inside of the guard and again on the outside is more prominent in this second example and this outside plate is missing on the first one.

I have found references to cutlasses and sometimes just the blades in 1858 being produced by Liege makers as well as German makers. It might be the mark I am trying to trace is that of a Liege Belgium maker not German.

Cheers Cathey
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Old 31st May 2021, 05:27 AM   #6
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I doubt a naval board would've contracted a little-known German maker to make cutlasses for the Royal Navy. My guess is what this is, a product of a smaller company, hence the esoteric logo. Could've been a product made on offer to a shipping line, or even for a steam yacht owner, who wanted a cutlass rack on board.
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Old 31st May 2021, 05:48 AM   #7
Jim McDougall
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathey View Post
Hi Guys

From what I can find thus far these cutlasses were contracted at the same time as the 1859 Sword Cutlass bayonet. There are records of the cutlass bayonet being issued but none on the cutlass’s also ordered at the same time. On page 91, Volume 1 Swords for sea service there is a reference to cutlasses produced at the same times as the cutlass bayonet but not adopted. This might explain why this cutlass has no issue marks and may have been repurposed for training use.

The first cutlass I posted has a 26 ¾” spear point blade, but I have other one identical other than that the blade is 27” spear point blade which is 1 ½” wide at the hilt. These blades are not blunted as you might expect in a training sword. I have attached the picture from Volume 2 of Swords for sea service as apart from the rack plate on the guard it is identical to the two that I have acquired recently. The reinforced plate on the inside of the guard and again on the outside is more prominent in this second example and this outside plate is missing on the first one.

I have found references to cutlasses and sometimes just the blades in 1858 being produced by Liege makers as well as German makers. It might be the mark I am trying to trace is that of a Liege Belgium maker not German.

Cheers Cathey

That is an excellent suggestion Cathey! Liege has been the 'X factor' in so many anomalous weapons, and their use of the 'Moors' head which had not been used since Solingen c. 1705 (as I earlier noted) would be a great mark to use. I dont know offhand of any listings of Belgian (Liege) makers but possibly these were relatively uncontrolled anyway given the numbers of 'private orders' . Other 1858's seem to have the Kirschbaum knights head or the Kings Head of Wundes, so the 'head' theme would seem to be in good company.
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Old 1st June 2021, 06:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
That is an excellent suggestion Cathey! Liege has been the 'X factor' in so many anomalous weapons, and their use of the 'Moors' head which had not been used since Solingen c. 1705 (as I earlier noted) would be a great mark to use.
Solingen maker Anton Wingen Jr. had started a cutlery line called OTHELLO in the 1880s, with a logotype consisting of the moor's head, but it's current mark doesn't look like this one. I haven't seen the original mark.
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